Defence [&] Security

Staying ahead of threats with space technology

In today's rapidly evolving security landscape, space technology is indispensable for Defence & Security, offering critical capabilities such as satellite-based surveillance and navigation. Leveraging space data can be a game-changer in critical situations where swift decision-making is crucial for staying ahead of threats. Our reliance on space data emphasises the need to enhance the resilience of space systems. Threats extend beyond Earth's borders, with space itself emerging as a new threat environment. Capabilities are needed that provide the means to monitor and understand activities in space, ensuring prompt responses to evolving threats.
Within the domain of Defence & Security, we address these challenges by offering Earth observation solutions for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, resilient satellite navigation solutions for Positioning, Navigation and Timing and innovative sensors for Space Situational Awareness. 

Resilient Satellite Navigation

Satellite navigation is more than just a convenience; it is a cornerstone of our daily lives. From ensuring efficient transportation to enabling precision in emergency response and Defence operations and providing essential timing information for highly sensitive radar applications. Satellites are the primary source of Positioning, Navigation and Timing information. The impact of disruption of satellite navigation is profound and far-reaching and with this reliance comes vulnerability. Our satellite navigation infrastructure is susceptible to radio interference, whether from natural occurrences or human-made sources. We offer flexible and modular software and hardware solutions for satellite navigation performance and interference monitoring. Our advanced systems are designed to detect and classify interference, and to pinpoint the source of interference. Additionally, we facilitate mitigation of satellite navigation interference through the application of smart antenna technology. We design solutions tailored for critical infrastructures such as maritime, aviation, and defence.

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Interference Monitoring

Many critical applications depend highly on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for precise and continuously available positioning and timing information. To warn a GNSS user that the signals are compromised, real-time interference detection is required. Additionally, real-time classification of the interference signal allows the user to select the most effective mitigation methods for the encountered disturbance. Classification can also be used to estimate interference signal properties and help point the user towards likely sources of the interference signal. Our advanced systems are designed to continuously monitor GNSS frequency bands and generate warnings to the user when interference is detected and classified, and to pinpoint the source of interference. 

Credits: ESA

Performance Monitoring

Our systems allow evaluating the quality of the Signals in Space and supporting investigations of satellite navigation service performance and service degradations and anomalies, including spoofing and jamming. We compute various types of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and we use observations from sets of receivers to determine the performance levels for position and time estimation. Observations from (high gain) antenna signals are used to investigate the health of the satellite payloads on ground. 

Smart Antennas

Smart antennas are the first line of defence in a resilient navigation system. We design smart antenna system algorithms, aimed to improve the accuracy of GNSS systems and to counter jamming and spoofing threats. These smart antennas include phased-array antenna concepts that allow safeguarding GNSS receivers from  jammers or spoofers by direction-finding of the interference signals, and controlling the reception pattern to effectively filter the signals coming from the identified direction. Our algorithms also allow the combination of multiple antenna elements to detect anomalies in the Radio domain, including the detection of jammers and spoofers.

Satellite-based Surveillance

 Since our establishment in 2000, we have cultivated expertise across the entire satellite data chain, from instruments to insights. Over the years, we played a vital role in the success of numerous Earth Observation (EO) missions, accumulating extensive experience with a diverse range of instruments, including Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Multi- and Hyperspectral and Infrared. EO satellites play a pivotal role, delivering Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities, aiding in mission planning, and enhancing situational awareness. Whether for border surveillance, maritime security, critical infrastructure protection, Defence operations or disaster response, Earth Observation stands as a reliable source of timely and accurate information in situations where this is paramount. We offer solutions that include the data processing and quality monitoring for the ground segment, onboard processing, and support users in developing their own data processing infrastructure, data portals and collaborative algorithm development platforms. Additionally, we serve as a reliable service provider for delivering valuable insights derived from EO data. For more information about our Earth information solutions please see Space [&] Science.

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Maritime Surveillance

With Earth Observation satellite data, a unique view of our oceans, seas, and coasts can be created. We identify unusual or irregular activity to detect for instance illegal fishing, environmental crimes, threats to critical infrastructure and irregular immigration to improve maritime safety and security. We combine various sources of satellite data including Synthetic Aperture Radar, Multispectral and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to enhance maritime situational awareness.

You can learn more about how we are revolutionising maritime surveillance with ESA IOD REMIS.

Military and Intelligence Services

Earth Observation is an indispensable tool in the arsenal of military and intelligence agencies worldwide. We provide early warning systems for global threats so that potential risks can be assessed and the development of conflicts can be tracked. We provide tools to identify and characterise features of interest that assist military operations in an autonomous mode, i.e., the analyses of images are performed with largely no human interaction. Earth observation also extends beyond traditional military applications. Monitoring environmental changes and natural disasters is paramount for predicting and mitigating security risks. Satellites can track climate patterns, assess the impact of natural disasters, and facilitate rapid response efforts, ensuring the safety and resilience of nations.

Space Situational Awareness

Space Situational Awareness involves monitoring and comprehending the activities and objects in space. From satellites to space debris as potential threats, sensors for space situational awareness provide the crucial insights needed to ensure the safety and security of space activities. We specialise in ground-based passive radio frequency (RF) sensors. We have developed DISTURB together with the radio astronomy institute ASTRON. 

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Space Weather Monitoring

Together with ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy we developed the DISTURB sensor. DISTURB  is a system that is designed for the detection of Solar Radio Bursts – intense radio emissions associated with solar flares. These emissions can disrupt all technologies dependent on radio signals, including radar systems, satellite navigation, and communications. Given the reliance that critical infrastructures such as aviation and Defence operations have on radio signals, disturbances can have severe implications for the safety and security of these crucial operations. DISTURB provides real-time space weather information that enables informed decision-making by distinguishing between natural (Sun) and man-made (jamming/spoofing) interference. In addition to our space weather monitoring sensor, we specialise in ground-based passive RF technology for tracking, identification and characterisation of space objects.

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